Ever since I took on the task of shining light on witchcraft in the Cedar Valley and why Christians should be against it there has been one argument that has repeatedly been brought up. I must admit, I foresaw this argument as I was fairly familiar with it ahead of time. I thought Halloween would be a good day to address it as paganism and witchcraft would be taking center stage. The argument that has been brought up most often is, “witchcraft in the Greek isn’t speaking of the same thing as witchcraft today.” Now perhaps you are scratching your head because you are completely unfamiliar with this argument. If that is you, let me give you a quick rundown. The Greek word used for “witchcraft” in the New Testament is Pharmakeia. Pharmakeia sounds an awful lot like “pharmacy”. In fact, we get the word “pharmacy” from the word pharmakon. Both “pharmacy” and Pharmakeia come from the word Pharmakon and the definition of Pharmakon is “a drug that can be used both for curing or poisoning”. Simply put, the argument that many make to justify witchcraft is to say that the witchcraft of the Bible is actually speaking of drug use or poisoning. I want to dig a little bit deeper into this idea, but first, we need to understand that this is not the only word that is used for witchcraft (something that is often ignored by those making this argument).
The first verse I would like us to examine is Exodus 22:18 it says, ” Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” This seems pretty straightforward, but if this is speaking of a drug dealer or someone who poisons people it means something completely different. The word that is used here is not a Greek word rather it is the Hebrew word Kasap, a verb meaning “to practice magic or sorcery”. That doesn’t sound anything like a drug dealer or a poisoner. This word is also used in Deuteronomy 18:10 and 2 Chronicles 33:6 which we will look at in just a bit. In Exodus 22:18 God is so offended by witches and witchcraft that He commanded the Israelites to not even let them live. My point is not to advocate for the killing of witches, rather, it is to drive home that God is against witchcraft. The witchcraft that is spoken of here is the exact witchcraft that is in the Cedar Valley today. There is no such thing as “white magic” or “green magic” there is only magic and its source of powers is from the devil, not God. God takes witchcraft seriously and so should we.
The next verse I would like to examine is Deuteronomy 18:10 “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch.” We have already looked at the word that was used for “witch” in this passage, but I want to focus on the word “divination”. The Hebrew word that was translated “divination” in this passage is the word Qesem. Qesem is described as “the cultic practices of foreign nations, specifically, it was used to discern between two choices.” This word is also translated as “witchcraft” (1 Samuel 15:23). When we think of the idea of “cultic practices of foreign nations” it is easy to see why a Christian would shun the idea of Pagan Pridefest. Pagan Pridefest by definition is the sharing of “cultic practices of foreign nations”. When we look at the second half of the description of this word, “used to discern between two choices”, it is easy to see why a Christian would abstain from fortune telling (of all kinds), as that is often the purpose of fortune telling. Remember the passage says, “There shall not be found among you” God doesn’t want this among His people.
The last Old Testament passage I want to look at is 2 Chronicles 33:6 “And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.” This passage is outlining the acts of king Manasseh, he was a king that “did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out (2 Chronicles 33:1-2). We will start by looking at the word “witchcraft”, it is the Hebrew word anan and it means, “to practice soothsaying, fortune telling, diving, magic.” Once again, we see that it is not speaking of drugs or poison, rather it is speaking of witchcraft like we have today. Next, I would like to examine the word “enchantments” it is the Hebrew word nahas which it means, “To practice divination or to observe omens.” Specifically, it speaks to the idea of pagan practices to seek knowledge through omens. This would include bone reading, palm reading, reading tea leaves, and all other types of fortune telling. This passage also speaks of “familiar spirits”, what does this mean? It is speaking of “conjuring spirits” and would include any and all forms of seances. The Hebrew word used here is ob in case you were wondering. Finally, in this verse, I want to examine the word “wizards”. Wizards here is translated from the Hebrew word yiddeoniy and is contrived from two words, one meaning “familiar spirit” and the other meaning “wizard”. Specifically, this word is referring to “one who identifies as a medium”. All of these words are consistent with the current cultural meaning of witch and witchcraft, all of these words are in a list of things that God viewed as an abomination. It is abundantly clear that God is not tolerant of witchcraft, rather He views it as sin.
Finally, we must examine the Greek word Pharmakeia. Let’s look at Galatians 5:20 for this “Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies.” This is the only time the word is translated “witchcraft” in the New Testament the other times it is translated as “sorcery”. Here in Galatians 5 the word “witchcraft” is used in a long list of what is described as “works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19) and is contrasted by the “Fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22). From this, it is abundantly clear to see that God is against witchcraft, but the question is what does witchcraft mean? As previously mentioned it is the Greek word Pharmakeia in this passage, the definition of Pharmakeia is “The occult, sorcery, witchcraft, illicit pharmaceuticals, trance, magic incantations with drugs.” Kenneth Wuest describes its connection with the Greek word Pharmakon as “it (pharmakeia) was used for witchcraft since witches used drugs.” Personally, I believe the connection between pharmakeia (witchcraft) and Pharmakon (drugs: good and bad) makes a lot of sense. When we think of witchcraft we often think of a long list of ingredients they might use in their spells and culturally 2,000 years ago they didn’t have the chemical compounds and synthetic drugs we have today, they had a long list of ingredients that would have been similar to those making drugs at the time. Even from looking at the word pharmakeia it is abundantly clear that the Bible is relevantly speaking against witchcraft and paganism today.
Where do we go from here? If you are a Christian you should speak the truth and stand against witchcraft and paganism. If you are not a Christian, perhaps you are even a pagan or involved in witchcraft, I want to invite you to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. In John 14:6 it says, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'” It is only when one believes in Jesus and Jesus alone that one becomes saved and goes to heaven. I hope that from reading these three articles you have gotten an accurate view of what the Bible says about witchcraft and why every Christian should stand in opposition to it.